Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Chaos Keeps Data Under Wraps," by Alexander Hellemans. Science, 2 May1997, page 679.

This article describes work by a group of researchers in France, who aredeveloping a system to use chaos to protect data transmissions. Given data inthe form of an optical signal, the system masks the data by adding chaoticflucutations in frequency. To an evesdropper, the signal would look likerandom noise. The receiver generates an identical copy of the chaotic part ofthe signal, and then subtracts it from the incoming signal to recover theoriginal data. This system, which may see application in about 5 years, couldprovide a speedup over traditional ways of securing communications, whichconsume computer processing time for encoding and decoding.

--- Allyn Jackson